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Grown Men Throwing Spitballs

I was born February, 12, 1972 in Youngstown, Ohio, but moved to California 4 years later.

I self-identify as a Palestinian American because both my parents were born and raised as Palestinians in Israel. They immigrated to the United States shortly before I was born.

I grew up mainly in Southern California but lived in Florida one year before moving back to California. I also lived in Israel for almost for a total of 5 years (3 years in the late 70’s and 2 years in the late 80’s), but moved back to the United States before the Infada in 1987.

My first encounter with racism in the United States was when I was 15 years old. My family and I were driving back to California and we stopped in Louisiana for lunch. While we were eating, a couple of grown, older men started throwing spitballs at us. As they were leaving, one man bumped into my mother and in the meanest voice, says, “go back to your country."

We don’t look Middle Eastern (i.e. Muslim coverings), and we spoke English the majority of the time. For the most part, I don’t really experience discrimination until it is known that I am Middle Eastern.